Masca Barranco in May

A narrow gap near the bottom of the barranco

Canary Willow (Salix canariensis) and Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) in the base of the barranco

The Masca Barranco (Ravine/Gorge) is a very dramatic landscape with ever-changing views as you walk either up or down. It is also a very special place for plants, many of them rare. In addition it is a popular tourist destination and consequently is sometimes very overcrowded, which detracts from its landscape and ecological attractions. In May when we visited, it was still busy, but not at its busiest.

We decided to take the earliest boat from Los Gigantes and walk up the barranco from the beach. It was pleasantly quiet in the barranco until about half-way, when we started to meet large groups coming down.


Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic.

We saw many unusual plants and flowers on the way up, the first exciting one was the Dorycnium eriophthalmum, a rare Canary endemic which is not found in many places. I have seen this in flower earlier in the spring so was not expecting flowers in May but was delighted to see just a fewAround this area we also saw Tenerife Samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on many of the damp cliffs.




Tenerife samphire (Vieraea laevigata) hanging on a shady cliff

In the lower part of the barranco we saw the following in flower, though I did not get good pictures to share: Tenerife Lavender (Lavandula buchii), a grey-leaved species common in Teno, Polycarpaea carnosa on the cliff sides, Polycarpaea filifolia in secluded parts of the base of the barranco, Maple-leaved mallow (Lavatera acerifolia), and Palomera (Pericallis lanata) with its lovely purple daisy flowers. We also saw a couple of shrubs of Maytenus canariensis, but not in flower, as well as many other plants.

A flatfish area of rock raised high above the barranco bottom crowned by a Dragon tree (Dracaena drago) surrounded by Euphorbias

Around the middle of the climb up the barranco we met another exciting species in flower, Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis). I had never seen this species in flower before so it was a real treat, especially as it appears the only wild population of this species is in Masca barranco. It was good to see that there were specimens over a wide area in this section, including up the cliffs either side.

Canary Knapweed (Cheirolophus canariensis)


Queen’s crown (Gonospermum fruticosum)

As the barranco widened the views extended, and included a vista of Canary palms growing naturally on a slope up towards the village. They are the dominant tree in the thermophile (warm-loving) woodland in this area. In this open upper area most of the plants had finished flowering by May, especially in this dry year.

Finally there is a steep slope to climb to reach the village. On a warm day in May, in the full sun, it is a fairly draining experience, and a refreshing drink in one of the bars is very welcome, before we found our taxi we had ordered for our return to Los Gigantes.




A slope covered with Canary Palms (Phoenix canariensis)

The walk took us around 3.5 hours, walking up.

About Sally Whymark

When I retired and moved out to Tenerife a few years ago, one of the things I really wanted to do was go walking in the mountains. The scenery is very dramatic, and varied. The views are amazing. The native birds and butterflies and other fauna are remarkable. But the flowers - they're just stunning. Little did I know how this would fire up my interest in plants. While living in England, I had always had an interest in flowers and plants, indeed I ran a plant nursery with my husband for many years, but had not spent a great deal of time pursuing botany. But when walking in Tenerife, I noticed all the unfamiliar shapes of the local flowers, and longed to find out more about them. There are literally hundreds of species endemic to just Tenerife (or even just one part of it), the Canary Islands, or Macronesia (the Atlantic Islands, including Madeira, Canaries and Azores). They are so exciting, and so many of them are really showy as well. So I have started this blog to share with you my excitement at all the great sights I see when walking in Tenerife. I hope you'll enjoy it - and want to come here and experience it for yourself.

Posted on July 17, 2017, in Botanical interest, Walks in Tenerife, West Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dear Sally, My wife and I are coming to Tenerife Sept 24-27, 2017. I am doing research on the Arbutus tree family. The arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone) grows profusely in the Pacific Northwest of the United States where we live. I am very anxious to see the Arbutus canariensis when we come to Tenerife. I have bought your book “Tenerife Nature Walks” and I see you describing it viewable on page 35 and I see on your blog about Guia de Isora walk where the Las Moradas path descends, numerous trees are there. The first question is this the same place? The second question is there an easier place where this tree can be readily seen? The third question regards a region between El Acebinal and Barranco de Samarines in the El Rosario area. Authors M S Pascual et al describe an interspecies hybrid between the canariensis and the Unedo that they found in this area. Although there are no canariensis there they say there are some within 1 km from there. Do you have any familiarity with this area and possibly these trees? Ref: M. Salas Pascual, et al. Arbutus androsterilis, a new intespecific hybrid between A. Canariensis and A. Unedo from the Canary Islands. International Association for Plant Toxonomy (IAPT) vol 42, no. 4 (Nov 1993),pp. 789-792. I love your book. Thanks for any help you can provide. Best regards, Roy Martin Retired Professor, Univ. of WA , Seattle, WA USA

    Sent from my iPad


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